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By SIMON ROMERO

PUERTO AYACUCHO, Venezuela — Three years after President Hugo Chávez expelled American missionaries from the Venezuelan Amazon, accusing them of using proselytism of remote tribes as a cover for espionage, resentment is festering here over what some tribal leaders say was official negligence that led to the deaths of dozens of indigenous children and adults.

Some leaders of the Yanomami, one of South America’s largest forest-dwelling tribes, say that 50 people in their communities in the southern rain forest have died since the expulsion of the missionaries in 2005 because of recurring shortages of medicine and fuel, and unreliable transportation out of the jungle to medical facilities.

Mr. Chávez’s government disputes the claims and points to more spending than ever on social welfare programs for the Yanomami. The spending is part of a broader plan to assert greater military and social control over expanses of rain forest that are viewed as essential for Venezuela’s sovereignty.

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12th-Oct-2005 08:43 pm - Chavez moves against US preachers
Beer
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he is about to expel a US missionary group, New Tribes Mission.
The leftist leader said the group were "imperialists" and that he felt "ashamed" at their presence in indigenous areas of Venezuela.

He accused the Florida-based group of making unauthorised flights and setting up luxurious camps amid poverty.

New Tribes, which preaches to non-Christian indigenous peoples, said it had no immediate comment.

It is one of Latin America's biggest missionary organisations and has 3,200 workers and operates in 17 countries, with operations in West Africa and South-East Asia too.

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